European Union Makes Big Plans to Eliminate Gas-Fueled Vehicles by 2050

The European Commission announced last Monday in a report from the European Union's  European Commission that petroleum and diesel- driven cars should be banned from cities across Europe by 2050 to slash dependence on oil and tackle climate change.  The Commission says that by instituting proposals and targets covering road, rail, and air travel, the transformation of the European transport system can increase mobility and cut congestion and emissions.

EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said: " Competitive transport systems are vital for Europe's ability to compete in the world, for economic growth, job creation and for people's everyday quality of life. - Curbing mobility is not an option; neither is business as usual.  We can break the transport system's dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility.  It can be win-win"

Plans adopted by the Commission were unveiled that proposed a Single European Transport Area, intended to set up "a fully integrated transport network which allows for an integrated shift in transport patterns for passengers and freight.  These measures are predicted to cut carbon emissions in transport by 60% by 2050

The document says that by 2050 the majority of medium- distance passenger journeys (those about 186 miles) should be by rail.  More than half of road freight traveling more than 186 miles should move to rail or boat (30% by 2030).  For urban transport, the commission calls for 50% shift away from conventionally fueled cars by 2030, phasing them out altogether by 2050.  All core network airports should be connected to the rail network by 2050, with all core seaports sufficiently connected to the rail freight and , where possible, inland waterway system.

Street Films

Streetfilms has announced the debut of their 10-part series "Moving Beyond the Automobile".  Every Tuesday over the next ten weeks, tune in to Streetfilms as they will be posting a new chapter about smart and proven strategies to reduce traffic and improve street safety for all users.  They will be tackling many interesting topics over the next few months from "Bus Rapid Transit" to "Congestion Pricing" to "Car Share" to show how each can help people to use cars less, or not at all!  This series was made possible by The Fund for the Environment & Urban Life.

Below is a trailer on the series and the first episode which features Transit- Oriented Development.  We at G8-LIFE are proud to continuously keep you up to date on the various advancements in Urban Living.  Enjoy!


Philadelphia's Mass Transit System Gets A New Look

The overhaul of the fare payment system at Philadelphia's SEPTA has been long overdue.  The organizations outdated tokens, paper transfer slips, and tickets will be replaced with a streamline system that mirrors many 21st Century metropolitan transit systems around the world.  With riders making over 300 million trips each year, the company is sure to see steady growth and must keep up with the growing trend of young professional city dwellers considering public transit as a convenient, relatively safe and cheap means of transportation.  The system, at least in Philadelphia has began to outgrow the stigma of being a service for the poor, lower class with dilapidated smelly stations, and dangerous corridors.  SEPTA has been working hard to change its image, despite the occasional strike and budget setbacks. The New handicap accessible Market -Frankford Stations, the recent renovation process of the Broad Street stations and future plans for City Hall Station along with the new smart card system will catapult the transit agency into the realm of well connected and served transit systems around the world.

The new system allows for seamless travel across all SEPTA services and permits regional integration with other transit authorities.  Riders will be able to use bank-issued contact-less credit or debit cards, cell phones, or other contact-less devices to pay a fare.  Riders will also have the option of using prepaid cards that allow users to draw from an available balance, purchase calender passes and reload as necessary.  The underlying technology is open loop and non-proprietary to extend the benefits and convenience of day-to-day retail purchases to transit usage and enable SEPTA to integrate its network into a unified system.  It is designed to improve the customer experience, reduce the reliance on cash, and enhance data collection and processing.


Infographic Shows World's Drinking Water Crisis

With all the ongoing discussions about global warming and the effects climate change is having on various regions around the world, it is no surprise that one of the greatest threats lingering is the shortage of fresh drinking water.  Many theorist believe that the problem may get so bad, it could be the cause of another horrific clash of world powers.  Every year Americans and millions around the world are paying more and more for water as our infrastructure rots and supplies shrink.

Image credit Nicolas T

Attached to this post is an infographic designed by Florian Krautli, for Visualizeing.org's World Water Day Challenge, a $5,000 prize offered by GE for the best visualization of the world's water woes. Krautli's inforgraphic has two basic components.  One is a bubble chart that shows water price increases and decreases in cities across the world.  Once you click the individual cities, you get a newsfeed filled with relevant news reports, and you also see the exact price of water, how it's risen in the last five years, and how that compares to population growth.

Chicago has seen a 54% rise in water costs, compared to a 2% rise in population; Washington D.C. has seen 44% rise; New York 46%; Philadelphia 19%; San Francisco 32%;Los Angeles 24%; and Phoenix 65%.  Below is the infographic for Philadelphia along with attached news articles related to water shortages and causes due to climate change, industry, and infrastructure.

An article in the Wall Street Journal highlights threats ranging from global warming to natural gas drilling that could threaten the water quality in the Delaware River.  The state of the river got in-depth attention last Thursday at a forum held by the federal Environment Protection Agency with meetings at six locations in all four states along the river.  Many of the presentations focused on the dangers of climate change, which could cause the salt line to shift upriver and threaten drinking water supplies in Philadelphia or bring additional water-borne diseases to the region.  Drilling for natural gas is said to be an even greater threat to the river.  The concern is that chemicals used to extract gas from deep underground in a process called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," could contaminate the drinking water supply.


Toronto Artist Residence Shapes Up Historic Neighborhood

The Pachter Residence, design by Teeple Architects in Toronto, Ontario, as a live, work, and gallery space for the Artist-Owner is a drastic display of contemporary expression in contrast to the early 20th century architecture of the surrounding neighborhood.  The owner wanted to bring the program elements together while keeping their architectural expression distinct.  Teeple Architects' solution for the 3200sf residence came in the form of three long spatial volumes stacked on top of each other, shifted laterally and longitudinally to allow light penetration into the spaces.  Each volume houses one aspect of the program; the ground floor volume is the studio, the second floor; the gallery, and the top floor is the residence.


Town Home Preservation Renovation In Singapore

Renovations of old urban town homes occur everyday all around the world, and many are adopting open space planning with new age contemporary finishes to suit the needs and expectations of todays buyers and renters.  A particular rental residence on 31 Blair Road in Singapore designed by ONG + ONG Architects of New York, has done an exceptional job at remodeling a historic home into a modern masterpiece.  The unorthodox first floor layout opens the house with the Kitchen and dining space right at the entrance.  This was done in light of the fact that most parties center around the food, and this arrangement allows guest to casually mingle with their hosts as they cook.

The dining area leads you to a comfortable living spaces adjoined to an outdoor mini courtyard that connects to another living or entertainment room at the rear.  The staircase is positioned perpendicular to the plan broken in two sections to allow for optimal wall access.  Storage is key in this home as many options are available with built in units throughout the layout.

eVolo 2011 Skyscraper Competition

On March 7 eVolo announced the winners of the 2011 Skyscraper Competition.  Establishes in 2006, the annual Skyscraper Competition recognizes outstanding ideas that redefine skyscraper design through the use of new technologies, materials, programs, aesthetics, and spatial organizations, along with studies on globalization, flexibility, adaptability, and the digital revolution.  The competition is also an investigation on the public and private space and the role of the individual and the collective in the creation of a dynamic and adaptive vertical community.  The award seeks to discover young talent, whose ideas will change the way we understand architecture and its relationship with the natural and built environments.

Below are the 2011 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.

The first place was awarded to Atelier CMJN (Julien Combes, Gael Brule) from France for their LO2P Recycling Skyscraper in New Delhi, India.  The project is designed as a large-scale wind turbine that filters polluted air with a series of particle collector membranes, elevated greenhouses, and mineralization baths.

The second place was awarded to Yoann Mescam, paul-eric Schirr-Bonnans, and Xavier Schirr-Bonnans from France for a dome-like horizontal skyscraper that harvests solar energy, collects rainwater, and preserves the existing urban fabric at ground level thanks to its large skylights and small footprint.

Third place was awarded to Yheu-Shen Chua from teh United Kingdom for a project the re-imagines the Hoover Dam in the U.S. as an inhabitable skyscraper that unifies the power plant with a gallery, aquarium, and viewing platform that engages the falling water directly.

These are just a few of the amazing entries submitted.  Check out the others here!